A Short Love Story

Photo Credit: curvewire.com

Photo Credit: curvewire.com

Today I want to share with you a short story I wrote awhile ago. I’ve posted it on The Romantic Vineyard, since it’s a love story. But it also fits well with this blog on family history. I hope it stirs in your memory similar stories you’ve heard from parents or grandparents. Be sure your children and grandchildren know these stories, for it’s part of who they are. Knowing them also gives them direction for who they’ll become.

Click on the following title to read the story:

Vito’s Coffee Shop


Making The National Day Of Prayer Personal.

Today is the National Day of Prayer. I’m planning to gather with other members of our church around lunchtime and pray for our nation, pray for our church, pray for our families, and anything else the Lord places on our hearts.

Prayer is a part of my life. I am blessed to have access to the Throne of God because of the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. He came, lived a sinless life and died in my place, so I can say these three words without fear of condemnation: Dear Heavenly Father. What a gift! I pray I won’t neglect such a privilege.

Prayer is a part of my family history. My grandmother, Grace, was a praying woman. My Mom was also devoted to daily prayers to God for each member of our family. When she passed away in December I was quite aware of the absence of her daily care for me in this way. It was sad, but then it motivated me to take on this responsibility for the sake of my family. God is near. He loves for us to cry out to Him in our struggles. My grandmother saw much pain and suffering in her 90 years, yet the pain drew her closer to God–not away from Him. He was her comfort and strong tower.

This brings me to another great question to ask our aging family members…

Questions #23 – What part has prayer played in your life? Did your (grand)parents pray often, and if so what do you remember about them?

A Simple Way To Discover Your Passion


As most of you know, I entered both of my blogs (The Romantic Vineyard) in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I was crazy to think I could keep up with it, especially since we were away for two weeks smack in the middle of April. But I did manage 22 posts on this blog! 22!!! That’s quite a feat when you consider I’ve only had a total of 45 posts since August of last year. I’ve doubled in a month what has taken me 7 months to write previously. I also posted 26 on TRV for a total of 48 posts in one month. So I’m extremely happy. 🙂

But what I’m happiest about is those who have joined my author blog as a result. I feel as though I’ve received an Oscar and I have a list of thank you’s:

  • Thank you for stopping by.
  • Thank you for signing up to receive my posts via e-mail.
  • Thank you for buying and reading my book.
  • Thank you for caring to learn more about your own family history.
  • And thank you for helping me find my author blog voice and direction, a new experience for me.

Through it all I’ve discovered a new passion I didn’t realize had been born in my heart. It’s to help others discover the stories in their family history and to share what they’ve learned with me and their extended family.

I’ve heard it said that if you want to know what you’re passionate about, ask your children.

Would what they perceive match your answer? One dad I know said his children answered, “You’re cholesterol.” Ha! He didn’t realize how often he read the labels on everything he ate, and how much he talked about how high his levels were. I don’t think he would have ever said he was passionate about it, but he was. Anything that receives our daily attention is most likely an indicator of a passion. Simply put…we do the things we want to do and tend to put off the things we don’t.

This leads me to my next question for you to ask an older member of your family–or to answer and share with your own grandchildren.

Question #22

What are you most passionate about now? How about when you were younger? Has it changed? If so, why?

Touchstones of the Heart

You've got mail bookstore

Touchstones are the parts of movies, books or songs that strike a chord in our lives to which we can relate. This is why we have favorites.

My favorite movie is You’ve Got Mail because I can relate to Kathleen Kelly in so many ways.

  • She has a little bookstore where the people have shopped for years. They loved her mother and the way she entered into the lives of her customers. (My parents had a drug store where they entered into the lives of their customers with compassion and care.)
  • She love books and writing. (I love books and writing!)
  • She was fascinated by the ability to connect with people on the internet she had never met in person. (I marvel at this as well.)

These are just a few of my favorite parts. 🙂

This leads to my next question…

Question #20 – What books, movies or songs provide touchstones to your life? What are the connections?

Be Careful What You Wish For


The weather is quite volatile today. As I’m typing the wind is howling through a cracked window; it sounds like an effect in a scary movie.

It got me to thinking of the storms I’ve experienced in my life. Back in 2004 when Hurricane Charley plowed across the entire state, I happened to be at a conference in Maryland and missed the whole storm. When I got home I was shocked to see the damage it had inflicted on our neighborhood. Tom rallied with neighbors to help clear the roads. But what’s funny is my reaction to the whole thing.

The last big hurricane to hit our area was in 1960 when Hurricane Donna hit Cuba and then made a bee line north damaging much of Florida. I was only one, but I remember bits and pieces of the storm because of its impact on our neighborhood.

I am a native from Orlando so whenever something big happens I want to experience it too. When I missed Charley I felt a strange since of disappointment. Two weeks later I was able to experience what I’d missed – Hurricane Fran hit Orlando, only to be followed by Ivan and Jeanne in two week increments! I finally said, “Enough already!”

Tom jokingly says that I got my wish! Yeah, I sure did! I felt bad for even expressing a desire to go through a hurricane. This must have been how the Israelites felt when God granted their wish for meat. They had so much quail it made them sick! We must be careful what we wish for.

This leads to my next question:

Question #19 – What severe storms have you experienced? How did it impact where you lived?

Like-Minded Cousins


Yesterday we had the privilege of visiting my cousin and her husband’s home for dinner in Ashe County, NC. We arrived early so we could have as much time together as possible. I admired her gardening ability, something we both enjoy doing that was passed down from our grandmother, Grace.

We worked on cutting and chopping for dinner all the while talking about various sorts of things. I happened to notice a beautiful pewter tea pot on her sideboard. When I asked her where she got it, guess what? It had a story! 🙂


She opened the lid to read a note she had taped to the inside. It was a wedding present given to her maternal grandparents back in the 1800’s. The tea pot looked brand new, but in reality it was one of the oldest things in the house. Note: the couple in the framed picture is my parents on their wedding day.

As we were about to eat, she took the chicken out of the oven that had been baking in this old, clay pot. She told me it was nearly 200 years old and had been passed down from generation to generation and was still “cooking,” literally! We talked about how amazing it would be to know all the meals that had been cooked in that clay oven. The chicken was moist and delicious, as was the entire meal.

Sometimes you can’t improve on the old way of doing things.


My cousin is a great cook!

Question #17

What is the oldest family possession you own, and what is the story behind it?


This is post #17 in the challenge to post everyday in April.


Living Today, Tomorrow’s History Of The Boston Marathon

Photo Credit: dailybail.com

Photo Credit: dailybail.com

Today we were witnesses of a horrible attack on the innocent bystanders of the Boston Marathon. As I’m typing this they are still working frantically to help the victims, search for clues and hopefully find those responsible. No doubt we will all remember this day. We’ll remember where we were when we found out. If we had loved ones or friends in Boston today, we’ll never forget waiting to hear whether or not they were hurt. It is a sad day.

Eyewitnesses are being interviewed non-stop by every media outlet in Boston. They provide important clues about this tragedy in a way no one else can because they saw things from their vantage point maybe no one else did. It is hard to listen, but we’re riveted. We keep watching, praying and hoping the world isn’t as bad as it seems. But it is.

Tragedies define us as a nation and as individuals. We become a product of the events we’ve experienced and for the rest of our lives we’ll reflect back on what our eyes have seen.

This provides us an important question to ask your elder family members:

Question #16 – What national tragedies have you lived through and what ones, if any have you witnessed yourself? Where were you at the time, and how did it affect your worldview?


This is post #16 in the challenge to post everyday in April.


The Mandatory Celebration of Tax Day’s 100th Birthday

Photo Credit: 123greetings.com

Photo Credit: 123greetings.com

Birthdays are a day to look back a remember. But they’re also a time to look forward to the year ahead. In America we celebrate by honoring the person with parties, balloons, cake, ice cream and usually lots of presents. Children enjoy their birthdays more than anyone else, and always anticipate what theme they’ll have at their next party. It is a fun and festive tradition.

But sometimes birthdays aren’t welcome. People hate the thought of growing older and anything that reminds them of the passing of time. I’m not one who succumbs to this way of thinking because I happen to enjoy the gift of life I’ve been given. Each year stands as a testimony of the faithfulness of God in my life. And I see this as a real reason to celebrate!

Today is a birthday of sorts, and it’s one most every American dreads.

It’s the 100th anniversary of the day our annual income taxes are due. There will be no cake, no presents and certainly no theme. This party requires everyone to send presents, even those who choose not to celebrate. 😦 Certainly not a party to look forward to.

But are you familiar with the history of Tax Day?

The idea of it began in the early 1800’s:

Tax Chart

The nation had few taxes in its early history. From 1791 to 1802, the United States government was supported by internal taxes on distilled spirits, carriages, refined sugar, tobacco and snuff, property sold at auction, corporate bonds, and slaves. The high cost of the War of 1812 brought about the nation’s first sales taxes on gold, silverware, jewelry, and watches. In 1817, however, Congress did away with all internal taxes, relying on tariffs on imported goods to provide sufficient funds for running the government.

In 1862, in order to support the Civil War effort, Congress enacted the nation’s first income tax law. It was a forerunner of our modern income tax in that it was based on the principles of graduated, or progressive, taxation and of withholding income at the source. During the Civil War, a person earning from $600 to $10,000 per year paid tax at the rate of 3%. Those with incomes of more than $10,000 paid taxes at a higher rate. Additional sales and excise taxes were added, and an “inheritance” tax also made its debut. In 1866, internal revenue collections reached their highest point in the nation’s 90-year history—more than $310 million, an amount not reached again until 1911.

In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution made the income tax a permanent fixture in the U.S. tax system. The amendment gave Congress legal authority to tax income and resulted in a revenue law that taxed incomes of both individuals and corporations.

Read more: History of the Income Tax in the United States | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005921.html#ixzz2QWzk4q2B

Taxes are a necessary part of running a government well. And this leads me to today’s question:

Question #15: Have you ever discussed what paying taxes were like in your grandparent’s day? Do they remember anything in particular that they have never mentioned?

Chart Source: http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com

Whole Latta Fun

latta plantation

We spent the day today touring an old southern plantation in Charlotte, N.C. — The Latta Plantation, to be specific. It wasn’t all that impressive by today’s standards, but in the early 1800’s it was quite the spread. We saw an old covered wagon, a chicken coop, a few horses, a mule and donkey, a couple of pigs, the kitchen and well-house and of course, the main house. I loved walking through imagining what life was like for them then. Probably the worst part for me would have been wearing those long skirts and long-sleeves with no air-conditioning. Yeah, I’m spoiled.

So much of what they did on a farm was to sustain life. They had to grow their own food or they would die. They had to care for their animals or they wouldn’t have milk, eggs or fresh meat. It was a hard life without the many conveniences we take for granted. You would think with all the extra time we have that our quality of life would be so much better. But it isn’t. Somehow I think we are more distracted which prevents us from focusing on the things of most importance.

Question #12 – Do you know what your grandparent’s did for a living? Did they farm their own land? Or did they live in the city?

My grandfather was a citrus farmer. He had 32 acres of groves here in Florida, and they were still a part of our family until the freezes of the early 80’s wiped them out. That was a sad time in our family. My parents replanted one grove, but even that one only lasted a couple of decades. The land became too valuable to keep as farm land. My Mom sold it to a developer in the family. 😦 Sadly, there aren’t any groves left for us to go tour like we did today. I can’t take my grandchildren to the family homestead in order for them to see what life was like for their great-great-grandparents. All they can have is the stories I share, which is why knowing it and telling it often is so important.

How are you doing with the questions each day? Are you making the time to ask someone in your family? What things have you discovered? I would love to hear…


This is post #13 in the challenge to post everyday in April.


Exit 8

We’re on the road headed to NC for a two-week vacation. Our daughter and her family (who lives in another state) is also on vacation this week. We happened to be texting when we realized we were both coming to Hardeeville, SC, at the same time.

So…we made plans to meet at the McDonalds without telling the kids. Believe it or not we arrived within 5 minutes of each other, and it was totally unplanned.

The look on the kids’ faces was so worth it!! There’s nothing like the surprise greetings from children. Their hugs are tighter and their smiles so genuine.

I’m enjoying the afterglow of the brief time we had. I saw Stella’s three new teeth, Norah’s new kitty, Bradley’s sweet smile and Mommy and Daddy’s new wheels. It was a fun, memorable pit stop.

Question #12 – When was a time you remember surprising someone or being surprised yourself?